Although SmarterHousing now has physical offices in all of the towns and cities in which accommodation is on offer, I originally launched the business as a ‘web company’.
Common sense dictates that a company of this nature cannot survive without a constant source of traffic. In an effort to drive people to www.smarterhousing.co.uk, I scoured the internet looking for websites that are used by my target consumer. At launch, SmarterHousing only provided high quality student accommodation and thus the target consumer was easily defined: college or university students seeking private rented accommodation.
I registered for numerous websites with a large student following and became active within their respective online communities. The most relevant at the time was Warwick Blogs and articles submitted by me still show up highly in Google searches related to student accommodation at the University of Warwick. Whenever I made a post, I would include some kind of link or reference to www.smarterhousing.co.uk. As a Warwick graduate ignoring the corporate world for a life of entrepreneurship I was able to post some rather blatant promotional material, however doing so on most, if not all, of the other student portals would have breached their terms and conditions. To ensure compliance with the various forum rules, I would only make posts where I was contributing to the community. For instance, on a website relating to GAP years I would offer as much help as possible to those investigating KPMG, where I had completed my own GAP year in 2001 – 2002. Although I was not making blatant reference to SmarterHousing, each of my posts had a default signature:
Without knowing it at the time, I was actually doing something called Search Engine Optimisation, or ‘SEO’ for short. SEO is a crucial tool for any web company and can help increase traffic from search engines, as you might have guessed from the term itself.
I have created a new category in the Entrepreneurship Library to contain all future articles on SEO, as there is much more to say on the subject!